Friday, October 23, 2009

Has Drink-Driving Policing Gone too Far?

Last night my wife paid a late visit to the supermarket. She was gone a lot longer than I expected and when she arrived home she told me she had been stopped by a police drink-driving checkpoint and made to complete a road-side breath test. She failed it and was required to accompany an officer back to the police station for an evidential breath test.

Fair enough, I hear you say? Well, the thing is, she had had nothing to drink - not a skerrick in the previous 24 hours. Even as he arrested her, the officer said to his colleagues that this case was clearly a "mouthwash" one. And so it turned out to be - my wife scored zero on the two evidential breath tests she was required to undergo at the station.

Now my wife is a very law-abiding person who has worked closely with the police in her job as a social worker so she was far more understanding than I would be. But it raises the question of why, if they knew she was very unlikely to be breaking the law, they had to infringe her rights by arresting her for what they knew would be a futile procedure?

I appreciate that we need laws to protect society from the irresponsible and negligent actions of those who care little for the rights of others. But this draconian programme of harrassing law-abiding motorists to prevent the possibility of people drink-driving seems to have gone way beyond what is reasonable. I am often underwhelmed by the figures, published by the police themselves, that show they stop thousands of motorists nationally each week for only a small handful of prosecutions. And all the resources going into this campaign are diverted from assaults, burglaries and other serious crimes.

I don't blame the police - they are just blindly following the laws and meeting the targets the politicians have laid down for them. Clearly, police officers need greater discretion in cases like this and the politicians need to allow police managers to use their judgement in terms of the resources and focus they put into this area.


penny said...

I cant understand why you should be so upset. if your wife - the driver - understood the reasons behind it then so should you. Have you ever heard the saying -- it is better to be safe than sorry---
stop whining about nothing and thank the government for being diligent on drink driving and hope they stop the driver who may kill you or your wife!

Kiwiwit said...

Taking the 'better to be safe than sorry' argument to its logical conclusion, I think we should ban all use of private motor vehicles on the grounds that doing so will also stop the driver who may kill my wife!